The Cyclops class of the 1870s period served the British Royal Navy as coastal defense ships, well-armored and armed for the task. The class was led by HMS Cyclops herself and strengthened by three sister ships: HMS Gorgon, HMS Hecate, and HMS Hydra. The group was built to the same design standard, classified as "breastwork monitors" and generally described as stout floating gun batteries concentrating the superstructure and armament at midships at the expense of undesirable maneuverability. Regardless, they were powerful and well-armored for their time.
The class was under construction from 1870 until 1877 and served in commissioned service from 1874 until all were given up in 1901. Each warship survived its respective tenure and all were ultimately succeeded by the newer Conqueror-class ironclads.
In the Cyclops design, the hull superstructure was positioned at midships and bookended by a pair of large turrets. A single smoke funnel was seated amidships with the mast works just aft. The bridge section overhung the structure from all sides. The freeboard was of a low-profile design which enhanced speed. Displacement reached 3,540 tons (short) and measurements included a running length of 225 feet, a beam of 45 feet, and a draught of 16.2 feet.
Installed power came in the form of 2 x Horizontal direct-acting steam engines developing between 1,475hp and 1,710hp while driving 2 x Shafts astern. The warship could make headway at 11 knots while onboard supplies allowed it to reach ranges of 3,000 nautical miles (3,500 miles) when cruising near 10 knots.
Aboard was a complement of 156 and armament was limited to 4 x 10" (254mm) muzzle-loading rifled main guns held in two twin-gunned traversing turrets. Armor protection reached 8" at the belt, 1.5" along the deck, 9" at the superstructure and conning tower, and 10" at the turrets.
HMS Cylcops was not completed until 1877 despite her being launched to sea in 1871 (indeed sisters Gorgon and Hydra achieved service status before her). As soon as 1887, with the work lasting until 1889, the class was given a complete refit/overhaul as the ships never really excelled in the ironclad warship role. Cyclops' sailing career saw her as part of the Particular Service Squadron before being assigned to the Fleet Reserve after 1889 where she remained as such until 1901. The entirety of the class was sold off for scrapping during 1903, bringing about a formal end to the group.
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